:: Nieman Watchdog | Verizon, AT&T and the manipulation of public opinion ::


Verizon, AT&T and the manipulation of public opinion

COMMENTARY | April 04, 2007

Needed: Blacks, Hispanics, disabled, deaf, low-income and the elderly to support the telecoms’ positions on anti-consumer FCC rulings and legislation.

By Bruce Kushnick
bruce@newnetworks.com

DEFINITIONS:

  • Astroturf—An organization set up by a large corporation or corporations to put forward the corporate agenda but to look like an authentic ‘grass-roots’ group.
  • Co-opted—An authentic group that is given funding by a large corporation or corporations, where the group lobbies for corporate initiatives even if they are contrary to the needs of its members.
  • Skunkworks—A well coordinated campaign funded by large corporations (or industries) that incorporates Astroturf and co-opted groups, research think tanks, PR firms, lobbying firms, state and federal politicians to put forward the corporate agenda on a specific topic.

Over the last few weeks numerous groups have been lobbying and hyping the corporate position of AT&T and Verizon for relaxed cable franchise requirements or to stop any net neutrality legislation.

Some of these groups are working together to supply a message that blacks, Hispanics, seniors, low income, deaf or disabled persons care about these issues – and that they back the AT&T and Verizon positions.

A release from a group called Video Access Alliance in mid-March, for example, titled “Video Industry Organization Voices Support for Broadband Deployment and Consumer Choice,” outlines how numerous groups support what it refers to as the FCC’s “bold” cable television decision.
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